What’s on in half term in West Essex: 13 – 21 February 2016

If you’re busy planning what to do with the kids this half term in West Essex, here’s some inspiration for activities in Stratford, Chigwell, South Woodford and the local area as well as some day trips into London.


A session promising an adventurous time outdoors learning bushcraft skills, such as how to track animals while camouflaging yourself, cooking on a campfire and building a den.

Time: 1pm -3pm
Age: unspecified but I’m guessing this is for older children, call to confirm
Tickets & booking info: £6 booking essential, call 020 8500 3094
Address: Grange Farm Lane (off High Rd), Chigwell IG7 6DP
Further information: Chigwell Meadows website 


Have you Seen Elephant book cover by David Barrow

A story time session with a difference as it involves a game of hide and seek with an elephant! Author and illustrator, David Barrow will also be reading from his comic illustrated children’s book, Have You Seen Elephant?

Time: 11am-12
Age: 5-7 years
Tickets & booking info: Email events@foyles.co.uk
Address: Foyles, Lower Ground Floor, Westfield Stratford
Further information: Westfield Stratford website



Vintage play doh tin
Everyone loves Play-doh, it’s cheap, versatile and most of us remember playing with it when we were young too. It’s hard to believe it was launched 60 years ago. The Museum of Childhood is marking the occasion with a series of half term activities. Artist-illustrator Amy Brown will lead animation workshops from Monday to Wednesday and Imagined World workshops Thursday to Friday. There will also be daily Story Modeling workshops with artist Helen Rousseau who will work with classic children’s picture books as inspiration for modeling fun. There will also be daily drop-in sessions as well throughout the week

The Museum of Childhood is easy to get to, just take the Central Line to Bethnal Green tube. If you have younger children or babies, be aware that there is no lift at the station although kindly strangers will usually help you get a buggy up the stairs.

Time: Various between 10am-5.30pm, check the website for details
Age: All ages but workshops vary: Animation and Imagined World workshops suitable for 5-12 year olds, Story Modeling Workshop 4-8 year olds.
Tickets & booking info: Entrance to the museum and some daily drop in activities are free, workshops cost £5 per child with a parent/carer. Booking in advance recommended either on the Museum of Childhood website or call 020 8983 5200
Address: V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road
, E2 9PA
Further information: Museum of Childhood website 


Michael Rosen Going on a Bear Hunt exhibition Discover Centre Stratford
There’s a packed diary of events on at the Children’s Story Centre Discover over the half term week. As well as a week of activities focused around drawing, the Michael Rosen exhibition Bear Hunt, Chocolate Cake & Bad Things is still on and is worth a visit. There will be poems from Michael Rosen, a drawing trail, craft events, a wall of heroes that kids can add to with their own superhero and a toddler storytelling event.

Authors and illustrators such as Rob Biddulph and Jane Foster will be bringing their books to live with interactive workshops throughout the week.

Time: The centre is open from 10am- 5pm Tuesdays to Friday and 11am – 5pm at the weekends. Note it is closed on Mondays. Times of activities and workshops vary, check the website for more details.
Age: Activities vary so check the suitability of each event
Tickets & booking info: 020 8536 5555, bookings@discover.org.uk
Address: Discover Children’s Story Centre, 383-387 High Street, Stratford E15 4QZ
Further information: Discover Children’s Story Centre website 


Imagine children's festival at the Southbank Centre illustration

The focus of this year’s festival is celebrating 100 years since Roald Dahl’s birth and there will be daily performances including music, theatre and literature with workshops and free activities.
There’s a huge selection of events, so have a look at the Imagine website, with Matilda the Musical, an exhibition about Roald Dahl’s Wondercrump World and a performance of The Minpins with a live orchestra.
There are also Story Slam events, the opportunity to meet famous children’s authors and illustrators, poetry, movement, messy play and face painting sessions.

Time: Every day from 10.30am to 4pm
Age: All ages, up to 12 years old, there is a special programme of events for Under-5s 
Tickets & booking info: ticket prices vary depending on the event so check the Imagine website for details, but there are also a number of free events
Address: Southbank Centre,
Further information: Imagine website 


Marvellous Magic, Valentine’s Mansion & Garden
Be prepared to be amazed by Mrs Back to Front and her marvellous magic tricks. Tickets include both the magic show and a workshop to learn magical secrets that will amaze your friends.

Time: 11.30am-12.30pm and 1pm-2pm
Age: 5 years+
Tickets & booking info: £10 per child (1 adult per child) Pre-booking essential on 020 8708 8100
Address: Valentine’s Mansion & Gardens, Emerson Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4XA
Further information: Valentine’s Mansion website 


February Forest Fun, The View, High Beach Visitor Centre, The Temple and the Forest around Chingford
From Tuesday until Thursday 18 February there will be a range of activities at various Epping Forest sites such as laser tag deep in the Forest and special activities taking place in the View, including traditional skipping, storytelling and Tudor toddler time. There will also be drop-in arts and crafts at High Beach Visitor Centre and The Temple.
Time: 10am – 3pm
Age: various, depending on activity
Tickets & booking info: No booking required

Further information: Call 020 7332 1911 or visit The View events website

Classical Mosaic Workshop, Valentine’s Mansion
A workshop devoted to creating your own mosaic in the style of Classical Roman and Greek mosaics from around the ancient world. Please bring a packed lunch.

Time: 10am-2.30pm
Age: 8 years+
Tickets & booking info: £30 per person. Pre-booking essential on 020 8708 8100
Address: Valentine’s Mansion & Gardens, Emerson Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4XA
Further information: Valentine’s Mansion website 


Exotic Animal Encounters, Valentine’s Mansion
Meet Vincent the Siberian Fox, Squirt the Skunk and their lovable friends at this fantastic event. You will learn all about the animals, have the chance to pet them all and make a mask of your favourite species to take home with you.

Time: 11.30am-1pm and 12.30pm-2pm
Age: 3 years+
Tickets & booking info: £10 per child (1 adult per child). Pre-booking essential on 020 8708 8100
Address: Valentine’s Mansion & Gardens, Emerson Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4XA
Further information: Valentine’s Mansion website 



This looks like a lovely show of Snow Child by Emma Reeves, and if you haven’t been before the Redbridge Drama Centre is a great resource for local children’s theatre. It’s a magical story of a couple who want a child so desperately they build one out of snow which comes to life as a wild child bringing joy to the villagers and talking to the animals.

There will also be Snow Child activity workshops on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 February

Time: Performances at 1.30pm & 5pm, workshops 10am- 1pm
Age: The show is suitable for 3-7 years, the workshops are aimed at children 4-8 years old.
Tickets & booking info: £7 each for adults and children, to book tickets for the performances visit the Redbride Drama Centre website. Workshops are £20 and to book tickets for the workshops  call 020 8708 8803 or email Emily.Thorpe@redbridge.gov.uk or Sally.Polden@redbridge.gov.uk. There’s a special offer with joint workshop and Snow Child Show tickets – £25.
Address: Redbridge Drama Centre, Churchfields, South Woodford E18 2RB
Further information: Redbridge Drama Centre website


The Duke pub in Wanstead was refurbished last year and has fast developed a reputation as a community pub, putting on events to bring people together including a big street festival and regular events such as comedy and music as well as film screenings for children. This half term they will be running an arts and crafts event for kids with lots of messy activities such as mask decorating, lantern making and leaf rubbing. And obviously there’s the bonus for parents that it’s in a pub with easy access to food and, more importantly, wine!

Time: 12 – 3pm
Age: All ages welcome
Tickets & booking info: £3 and you can book in advance on the Eventbrite website
Address: The Duke, 79 Nightingale Lane, Wanstead, London E11 2EY
Further information:The Duke Facebook page



Rave a roo childrens disco illustration

For those of us who used to go our clubbing before children came along, the growing number of kids raves is very welcome. We’ve previously been to the excellent Big Fish Little Fish rave parties for children and would thoroughly recommend them. If you grew up with dance music the idea of having to endure One Direction in a room full of kids isn’t exactly appealing, so the idea behind these sorts of events is to have music that parents and also children appreciate along with a mini festival vibe.

Rave-A-Roo is billing itself as “a new clubbing mash-up of festival fun for all the family” and their inaugural London event is launching on Friday during half term at the iconic Ministry of Sound club. There’ll be top DJs, a Big Fish Little Fish takeover, confetti, live performances, a UV tattoo station and a glow chill out room with an area for babies. For the adults there’ll be a bar as well as a cafe and the convenience of a buggy park. They are already looking to announce more dates around the country soon.

Time: Sessions are 1pm -3pm and 4pm – 6pm.
Age: Suitable for all ages
Tickets & booking info: £7.50 (earlybird), £10.00 (advanced) and £12.50 (on the door). Babes in arms go free. Book online on the Rave-A-Roo website.
Address: Ministry of Sound, 103 Gaunt St, Elephant and Castle, 
Further information: Rave-A-Roo website

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